Qua Humbug

"Turn from the glittering bribe thy scornful eye / Nor sell for gold what gold could never buy."

I could listen to the first track by Wim Mertens on this playlist again and again…

(Source: Spotify)

“Thinking is not speaking. It is a very difficult thing to discover and acquire the language of one’s own thought. Each separate individual is very likely original in his thought. But between his thought and its fit expression the well established common language stands like an enormous, impenetrable wall, like an all-devouring monster, like a steam-roller levelling everything down. Only the whole strength of love, only a loving strength, and strength joined to humility and devotion can make it personal, and yet in such a way that it remains the common tongue.”

—   Theodor Haecker, Journal in the Night. Entry 366, 1940.

“When my son Reinhard was a year old, and for weeks on end had attacks of croup every night, almost choking to death, everything became dark before my eyes, for I could not and cannot see in this the faintest glimmer of reason, it is utterly unintelligible. Man has no immediate consciousness of the innumerable generations that preceded him or of those that are to follow. Ten or a million are all one. Everything that a generation experiences in the way of misfortune happens, where immediate consciousness is concerned, just once. And yet it happened and happens probably for millions of years. That is reflective knowledge. And it creates difficulties. It puts the unanswerable question: why this endless repetition of unspeakable misfortunes through thousands of generations? That is where faith has to fight its hardest battles. And it can be seen that reflection, where the stream of knowledge always runs thin, is its greatest opponent, and its most dangerous one.”

—   Theodor Haecker

“Looking with a certain contempt upon Christianity, you observe that it has no philosophy, no metaphysic. But is that not an error? The Christian’s metaphysics is—that he eats God.”

—   Theodor Haecker, Journal in the Night

See what happens when you want to furnish a house. Until now you never thought of furniture, so little indeed that going about the streets of Paris where every fourth shop is a collector’s, you did not even see the things; the shapes did not make you stop; you did not know the tendencies of fashion, the chances of the find, the specialty of this or that district, the prices, etc. On the contrary, now that your mind is awakened by desire, everything strikes you; everything holds you; Paris is like a huge store, and you know in a week what a lifetime would not have taught you.

Truth is commoner than articles of furniture. It cries out in the streets and does not turn its back on us when we turn our backs on it. Ideas emerge from facts; they also emerge from conversations, chance occurrences, theaters, visits, strolls, the most ordinary books. Everything holds treasures…

[A. G. Sertillanges, The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods]

“Sexual autonomy is increasingly more important to contemporary Americans than religious liberty, which was one of the founding principles of our nation. What we call “traditional Christians” in our discourse refers to what 50 years ago would have simply been called “Christians,” given that there was no dramatic dissent among the various Christian sects and churches on sexual morality. So, when we say that we are living through the transformation of traditional Christianity from majority to minority status, what we’re really saying is that the Sexual Revolution has conquered Christianity in America, and that Christians who still believe about sex more or less what nearly all Christians for over 19 centuries believed are becoming a declining population that will be seen as as reactionary weirdos.”


Experts: “We can just keep using the chairs we have.”

Pay absorption!

Attention is something that must be paid. Paying attention is not unrelated to discharging a debt, to offering tribute, to giving the entity that demands the attention something akin to cash. When you tell someone to pay attention, you are trying to take something from him, something that, one might assume, he does not wish to give: his focus, his presence of mind, his full being. Is it possible that paying attention is akin to paying tribute? When someone asks you to pay attention, he is imposing authority on you. Perhaps it is not that we can’t get ourselves to focus on this or that matter, but simply that offering attention is felt as a challenge, a burden. “I made myself pay attention, even though what he was saying was boring.” “It wasn’t easy to pay attention to him, but I did.” There’s a tribute involved. There’s a tax. There’s a debt. Do you understand? Are you paying attention to me? We can take satisfaction in paying a bill, or getting rid of a debt, but it is never exactly a joy.


I’d say […] that the deep opposite of attention isn’t distraction, but absorption. No one ever tells you to “pay absorption.” Absorption is what occurs when you immerse yourself in something you love doing. The artist and the poet and the philosopher and the scientist become absorbed. The kind doctor becomes absorbed in her patient; the teacher becomes absorbed in his class presentation. The musician becomes absorbed in the fugue. When that happens, time stops and one lives in an ongoing present. One feels whole and at one with oneself. The little boy drawing with his pad on the floor, tongue sticking out from one side of his mouth, is a picture of absorption. He is not really paying attention. He is being absorbed. What is happiness? W. H. Auden answered the question quite simply: Happiness comes in absorption.

[Mark Edmundson in The Hedgehog Review 16.2 (Summer 2014)]

(Source: iasc-culture.org)


Via GFOP @squires_david


Via GFOP @squires_david

World is suddener than we fancy it

The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was
Spawning snow and pink roses against it
Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
World is suddener than we fancy it.

World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.

And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes -
On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one’s hands -
There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.

[Louis Macneice, “Snow”]